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"Like video, I found that data storage had lots of format options. And the differences covered a range of capabilities, capacity, size, transfer speeds, and cost. Pretty quickly, though, I narrowed down the options to only a few that seemed to be the best fit with my need," Martin said. "In the end, the choice was simple - AIT systems fit best."
Typically, non-linear editing systems include RAID arrays in the 100 to 300 Gigabyte range. Depending on the project, only part of the array might be used, or the project might be larger, comprising several sections. Martin determined that AIT-2 format drives and tapes covered a range from 25 to 50 GB native capacity, which matched well with his own editing systems and project sizes.
"The key first step was the range of capacities, which had to match my equipment. My systems range from 120 to 320 GB hard disk array capacities. AIT-2, with 50 Gig native per tape, fit the need well, plus I can use smaller tapes, 25 or 35 Gig, if I want to. The next key was speed. With this kind of application, there is a lot of interactivity, so access times were important. AIT average access time of only 27 seconds was the fastest - less than half the access times of DLT. In terms of cost, I was surprised at the moderate cost of the AIT drive - around $3000."
"On the Software side, we mostly use Mezzo on the stratosphere and FCP. Mezzo recognizes the AIT drives and keeps track of the content on a project-level basis. The software notes when we make changes to the timelines, and makes sure that the content files we are using are automatically saved to the tape."
"When we need to start work again on a project, it's a simple matter to restore the content files, timelines, and other associated files back to just where they were when we left off. Without that capability, I don't think we could have made revisions of past projects to meet short-fuse customer requests."
In the last several months, AIT-3 drives and media have become available. Each AIT-3 tape can hold up to 100 GB native capacity. An added bonus is that AIT-3 drives can read and write on AIT-1 and AIT-2 tapes. So, using an AIT-3 drive today lets you use tapes from 25 to 100GB native capacities.
According to Martin, "Now, we are mostly using AIT-2 drives to serve our needs. But I expect to upgrade to AIT-3 drives shortly."
In recent times, the phrase 'Digital Asset Management' has caught on like wildfire. In part, this is because major media companies such as CNN, Disney, and others have focused their attention on it. They have recognized that their existing collections of content represent an enormous asset.
But managing smaller projects is just as important for independent and business production teams. And it's good to know that leading-edge technology can be brought to bear on these everyday challenges without big budgets.
By Kevin Handerson, director of marketing for branded data storage media, Sony Electronics' Business Systems and Solutions Company.